Rift CV1 vs Vive

rift_vs_vive

Ok, I finally got my hands on the final consumer models and have given them enough play time to feel like I know what’s going on.

If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what these are: they are kits for your computer to enter the magical world of “Virtual reality” apps and games.

Which parts are the same between these devices?

Both are the same resolution.  Both run at 90hz and have roughly the same field of view. Both are USB hubs internally that add a ton of devices. (Vive takes one port, Rift takes two)

Both have their own store/in-between game area that allow you to change and buy games without taking your headset off.

Both screens don’t handle certain high contrast images great, like white text on a black background.  It sort of adds a glare or foggy type of feel due to the lensing structure.  Rift might have a slight advantage in the visuals.

The Rift

rift

The Rift headset is slightly lighter and more comfortable than the Vive. It has built-in (but removable) headphones which simplifies getting in and out of it.

The controllers packed with the Rift

It’s packaged with a tiny remote that reminds me of the Apple TV or FireTV remote.  It’s reported to be usable for 4,000 hours before needing a battery replacement – not surprising considering it doesn’t have a gyro, haptics, or anything else, it’s just for simple selections.

Strangely, it also comes with an Xbox One controller.  I only found it required for a couple games, most are ok with the tiny remote thing. I have to use it wired because they don’t include the wireless adaptor because I’m in Japan and apparently it uses radio frequencies that aren’t allowed here.  (Shhh, I imported a US Xbox One a while back, guess I’m an outlaw now)

Rift technology

This is a decent update to my old Oculus DK2.  We’ve now got 2160×1200 vs 1920×1080, faster refresh, built in mic/audio, and it’s lighter to boot.

You can now swivel a true 360 degrees because the headset has had tracking LEDs placed on the back too.

Unfortunately the tracking technology choice is what potentially dooms it, more on this later.

The Vive

vive2

Ok, now the Vive.

First off, the included earbuds are not a great experience.  They were constantly being pushed and pulled by the cabling which sometimes causes them to pop out.

While demoing the Vive to friends it’s especially awkward to be asked “could you put that back into my ear, I can’t because I’m holding these controllers”.  No way, do it yourself!

I got rid of them (the earbuds, not the friends) and am using a pair of low latency wireless headphones instead, works nicely.

The controllers packed with the Vive

These are what really make the experience something special.  The accuracy and tracking are so good you can toss one up in the air and catch it again with only the VR visuals.  I’ve noticed no jitter or occlusion issues.

Vive technology

Unlike with the Rift, you have to Boba Vila it up a bit and mount the two Vive sensors in opposite corners of your room. (actually, these little boxes just spray non-visible light around your room, it’s the devices you’re wearing/holding that do the actual sensing)

Note: When the “lighthouses” are on, they screw with other IR devices you might be using.  For example, I can’t control my room lights.

Don’t cut corners during the mounting because the moving pieces inside cause these things to slightly vibrate which could cause a shift in position.

My “room VR” space is pretty sad.  Have I mentioned I live in an apartment in Japan?  I now have a garbage can on top of my refrigerator, to give you an idea of the tetris-like wonders that had to be achieved to make this possible at all.

With the Oculus DK1 and DK2 I was excitedly telling people “we aren’t quite there yet, but this is going to be amazing someday”.  Kind of a “Marty, your kids are going to love it” thing.

Well, we’re there now, folks.  If you can handle the discomfort of wearing what is essentially a tethered scuba mask, it’s now possible to get your mind blown in VR.

Rift vs Vive

Vive easily wins the VR wars for now because it can also support room scale. You just don’t get sick when playing “room scale” VR (content designed for you to walk around on a 1 to 1 movement basis).

Also, the motion controls being available now would also have put it into the lead, they are a must for VR.

We can’t quite knock the CV1 out of the running yet because soon they are going to release Oculus Touch which includes another sensor and motion tracked controls.  It remains to be seen if it will accurately track at room scale at the quality the Vive does, or even if they suggest trying to set things up that way.

I’ve read that games like Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption are being re-tooled to be “forward facing experiences” for the CV1 and its new controllers, so this points to room VR/360 degree motion control play not being a main focus.

Unfortunately, even assuming the CV1 will eventually be able to do room scale VR there would be a fragmented market between “People who don’t have the new Touch controls”, “People who do but put both sensors on their desk” and “People who tried to setup the sensors for Room VR”.

Rift store vs the Vive store

The Rift store currently has no user rating system so it’s hard to know what the best software is.

Vive uses Steam so of course it has a top notch ratings/community systems. (quiet in back, yeah, it’s not perfect, but much better than no ratings!)

Ease of Development with Vive and CV1

ue4_v4_scene

I had a simple scene with Vive + Motion controllers being tracked working in 15 minutes using this tutorial.

I found motion controller models included with my normal Steam install here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\SteamVR\resources\rendermodels\vr_controller_vive_1_5

On import, I rotated them by 90 degrees on the Roll and Yaw and they perfectly matched.

I unplugged the Vive stuff, plugged in the Rift, checked the “Unknown sources” button in settings, restarted UE4 and ran the same test app – it worked first try! I was only 3 inches tall but hey, that could be adjusted.

I don’t know anything about distribution builds or how hard it is to get listed on the various stores, but hey, at least it’s easy to play with out of the box.

Conclusion

Vive rules.

Planning to post some reviews of VR games/apps tomorrow.

Do you have any VR stuff? What do you think?

Try Rogue-Life, a tiny free game I made

rogue-life

Ludumdare is a game jam where they announce a theme and you make a game over the weekend just for fun and practice.

It’s a fantastic way to get your game design juices flowing as hey, no matter how bad you fail, it was only a couple days.  The time-pressure if only having a few days and HAVING to release whatever you have is great for those that like to quit projects halfway, like me.

About the “game” I made:

Rogue-Life is a weird experimental thing that crosses a board game, a rogue-like, and the hollow illusion of controlling that random dungeon of existence we’ve each received.

Can you find meaning before you “Grow” old and die? There are 5 of them to find.

Tips:

  • You are always aging (even while standing still), and you will eventually die
  • Don’t waste your life on the wrong jobs, different jobs give different emotional benefits as well as pay. For instance, a Soup Kitchen pays $0 but raises your Self Acceptance
  • Some lives cannot be happy or successful no matter what you do
  • Overcoming an obstacle (the pad-locked doors) give a bonus to all stats
  • Your stats change with age. For instance, your Physical will go down as you enter old age, and your Self Acceptance takes a hit in your teenage years
  • Meanings are marked by trophies icons – you can zoom out with your mouse wheel to see where they are easier

I’m not ever sure if it’s possible to find all “meaning” in a single life before dying. 3 out 5 is my best.

Post-mortem:

Good:

  • Well, I made what I set out to do
  • It’s funny in weird and unexpected ways, like to accept lack of control and chaos (one of the meanings) you may need to murder someone
  • “Pushing” against a job to continue working there is a nice easy way to control things
  • Got a bit more comfortable with Unity and WegGL

Bad:

  • It’s kind of boring. You end up pushing against everything without even reading what’s happening
  • The more text and numbers I removed, the better it plays. But don’t feel like doing that
  • The random stuff is way too random, each life is completely different and some don’t make sense. Hey, maybe that’s fitting though

For the daring, you can play the game in your web browser here.  Probably doesn’t work right on mobile as you need arrow keys to control stuff.

Toolfish (was $10) is now free as of today

What is Toolfish?  It’s my tiny tray app for power users that runs in the background while you’re using your Windows machine.

I’ve used this app EVERY DAY for the last 10 years and the first thing I do after buying a new computer is move my Toolfish setup to it!

It allows you to stack “Triggers” that cause “Actions“, which can also be stacked.  For instance, a trigger could be “if Ctrl-Alt-L” is down, and a certain app name is in focus, run some Actions.

Actions could be could be things like running programs, faking keystrokes, reading text out-loud via text to speech, sending an email, lots of things.

It also has other built in features like Leet-Type (NEVER USE THIS!), neat stats like how many miles you’ve moved your mouse, Smart Muting your computer if inactive, letting you know if a Webpage has changed by more than a certain percent, or a certain word exists or is missing on a website, stuff like that.  All in a tiny 1.3 MB download!

I used to use it to run Funeral Quest if it noticed it wasn’t running… helped with crashes!

It comes with a few nice hotkeys like Ctrl-Shift-G to open a browser, Ctrl-Shift-Alt-I to paste your *true* IP address, stuff like that.

It can also Monitor if a website is down,  Shutdown or reboot your computer, just tons of weird stuff.

It also has a Stealth Mode to hide the tray icon – combined with the key stroke logger, this app could be used for evil, so don’t use it that way please!

It has “Event Wizards” that let you do things like “Remind me in 5 minutes” in just a few clicks.

Some features like email checking and atomic clock adjustments are less useful these days than when I wrote them (back in the Windows 98/2000 era) so I’d ignore those features.

Anyway, this is a $10 app that is now free, so give it a shot.  I’ll keep adding little tools and utilities to it, I did add one new action for this release:  “Set Microphone level“.

Big thanks to those who bought this over the last ten years!

You can read more about it here, or just go ahead and download the full version like you know you want to here for Vista/Win7/Newer.  For Win XP, try the older version.

My plan is to continue releasing more of my stuff as free as I get time to do it.

That old game Dink Smallwood is now playable in a browser!

Here is the full version of the RPG Dink Smallwood playable in desktop Chrome/Firefox by using Proton’s emscripten html5 export:

dink_html5

Play it here!

It’s not perfect, here is what’s wrong with it/missing:

  • No midi playback.  The fake SDL audio wrapper can’t handle it I guess although I didn’t really even try.  Anyone know a easy way to play Midi via emscripten?  All the CD audio does play though.
  • While save/load quicksave/quickload all work perfectly, nothing is actually saved if you close your browser window.  It’s possible but requires some async save/loading I didn’t feel like dealing with right now.  But this means don’t really play the game, you’ll lose everything!
  • The in-game DMOD download and install system amazingly does work, but only with Mystery Island because that dmod is hosted on the same domain.  It isn’t saved when the browser closes
  • No gamepad support
  • It’s big, it’s like a 40-50 mb download (not sure how well the web compression works) and has no loading bar during the initial load.  Wish emscripten’s .html maker would include one!  Anybody know how to add one easy? Maybe I should actually learn javascript someday.
  • Very unlikely it works on iOS Safari, only actually tested with Chrome on Windows

It’s an early step, but it’s very possible to setup some kind of system where you could click on any of the 300+ dmods on Dink Network and have them be (near) instantly playable right there in your browser.

Here’s another old game of mine exported to html5 with emscripten, Dungeon Scroll.

Tales of an App Store rejection

apple_rejection

Growtopia’s fishing update is happening a bit later than we expected. As a warning to other developers I’m explaining why.

Our app was rejected for mentioning other platforms – not in the app. Not in the description. Not in a screenshot. I know about those rules.

Where did I go wrong?

I mentioned other platforms in the private notes to the reviewer. I had a line of text mentioning that as a multi-platform game, accounts created on Windows/Mac/Android also could log on as a sort of an explanation of why I didn’t use GameCenter or iCloud saves.

I removed that line of text (with no other changes) and resubmitted. It was approved nine days later. I guess this text would fall under “metadata”.  I’ve never read any warnings about this, so dear reader, consider yourself warned.

This text has been in the “notes to reviewer” for the last two years and 20+ updates. So don’t know if I’ve just been lucky, got unlucky, or an automated scanner was recently added that does scan all metadata including the notes to reviewer. (Doubtful, as a scan would probably be run during submission rather than after the nine day review wait)

apple_rejection_timeline

And that kids, is why it took 18 days to get our update approved. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Release parity on four platforms for an MMO is hard

We add new content around every three weeks and things like this make it a challenge to sync up the four platforms we support to enable new features. If anyone asks why we don’t use the Mac App Store for our Mac client, well, now you know!

Being a top 1000 grossing app does not grant any special treatment or review times in my experience.

I try to allow enough time for a rejection, but when two rejections could mean (nearly) a month delay, well, you might be enjoying your Christmas themed app icon in January.

I’d love it if Apple would introduce a “Rush fee for a 48 hour review” option, would help immensely. I know there is a channel where you can beg for a rushed review, but I don’t think “my players need to fish” would have really cut it as an emergency.

Related side note: Last month we were rejected because the reviewer noticed we used the advertising ID but didn’t know WHERE we used it.

I’ve heard of a few other devs getting dinged with this recently too – so be sure to point out in your notes to the reviewer exactly where it’s used and how to get there.

And whatever you do, don’t mention the word Android!